Common causes of mouth ulcers and how you could prevent them according to doctors

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Have you ever had mouth ulcer? Mouth ulcers are can be identified by their small white or yellow centre lesions with a red border. They are very common in children and adults but are rarely a sign of anything serious.

In a Facebook post shared by Dr Rahim, mouth ulcers which are also known as canker sores can be caused by several factors which include iron or vitamin B12 deficiency, damaging your gums with a toothbrush, food intolerance or allergy or as simple as biting the inside of your cheek.

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Typical ulcers usually appear on the inner cheek and last between a week or two. While most mouth ulcers are harmless and clear up without a need for medical intervention, there are types of mouth ulcers that can recur quickly and take weeks to heal.

Three main types of mouth ulcers:

Herpetiform ulceration

This type of mouth ulcer is a subtype of aphthous ulcers and gets its name due to its resemblance to sores that are associated with herpes.

However, unlike herpes, HU is not contagious but it can recur very quickly and may never get better.

2. Minor ulcers

This mouth ulcer can range in size between 2 millimeters and 8 millimeters. It can take up to two weeks to heal and will cause a minor pain.

3. Major ulcers

Major ulcers are ulcers that are larger than minor ulcers and mostly irregular in shape. They are also may be raised and penetrate deep into the tissue. This type of ulcer usually takes several weeks to clear up and leave scar tissue.

Apart from the factors that have been mentioned previously, other factors that may cause mouth ulcers are:

  • Badly fitted dentures, braces or a sharp tooth
  • Cuts or burns while eating or drinking
  • Tired, stressed or anxious
  • Hormonal changes such as during pregnancy
  • Genetics
  • Long-term condition such as coeliac disease, inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) or Behçet’s disease
  • Certain medications like NSAIDs, beta-blockers or nicorandil
    Smoking
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Mouth ulcers are certainly irritating and they can be really uncomfortable to live with. However, you could avoid mouth ulcers or heal them faster by following these simple tips:

  • Increase your water intake
  • Use salt water mouth rinse to rinse your mouth. Salt-based water mouth rinse can
  • temporarily increase pH level of your mouth, thus, creating an alkaline environment in which bacteria struggle to survive.
  • Switch to toothpaste that is free from Sodium Lauryl Sulfate (SLS). SLS is a strong detergent and can increase canker sore outbreaks and pain.
  • Avoid spicy and salty foods
  • Avoid hot drinks
  • Avoid taking citrus fruits like oranges and lemons
  • Use soft-bristled toothbrush
  • Use anti-microbial mouthwash
  • Use painkilling mouthwash, gel, cream or spray like Orabase or Bonjela
  • Take some corticosteroid lozenges
  • If the pain is persistent, take antibiotics or painkillers

At the end of his post, Dr Rahim wrote a gentle reminder to the public to always care and maintain oral hygiene to prevent mouth ulcers.

He also wrote that if the mouth ulcer lasts longer than three weeks, keeps coming back and becomes more painful and red, they might be a warning sign for you to seek a professional help immediately

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Long-lasting and recurring mouth ulcers are usually the signs of mouth cancer so it is best to get it checked. You may not want to wait until it is too late!

Source: Facebook/Dr Rahim | NHS | Colgate 

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